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Time’s up: Saigon police say won’t go soft on foreign traffic violators as ‘education’ period ends

Saturday, September 07, 2019, 09:00 GMT+7
Time’s up: Saigon police say won’t go soft on foreign traffic violators as ‘education’ period ends
A foreigner is pulled over by traffic police officers in Ho Chi Minh City for a violation in this still photo taken from a footage.

Ho Chi Minh City traffic police said Friday it would not spare the rod on foreigners who disobey traffic laws, now that a two-week campaign where officers educated non-Vietnamese on local rules of the road was long over.

The municipal traffic police said last month it would spend two weeks starting August 1 to disseminate traffic rules among foreigners in the city, during which foreigners will only receive warnings for their traffic violations.

From August 16 until the end of October, the city’s police would increase patrols and impose traffic fines on foreigners who break traffic rules, said Lt. Col. Nguyen Van Binh of the Ho Chi Minh City Road and Railway Traffic Police Division.

Speaking at a conference on traffic safety for foreigners held in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday morning, the municipal police said it had pulled over 100 foreigners, booking 40 of them, for breaking traffic laws as of the end of August.

The most common violations among foreigners in the city are not wearing helmets and driving on a wrong lane, said Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of a specialized board for traffic safety in Ho Chi Minh City.

A foreigner is pulled over by traffic police officers in Ho Chi Minh City for a violation in this still photo taken from a footage.
A foreigner is pulled over by traffic police officers in Ho Chi Minh City for a violation in this still photo taken from a footage.

Most foreigners who were pulled over by police officers did not carry a valid motorbike driving license and were ignorant of traffic laws in Vietnam, said Lt. Col. Dang Duc Minh from the People’s Police Academy.

They were also unaccustomed to the local traffic system, which is characterized by the large number of motorbikes, Minh said.

Foreign nationals are involved in around 500 traffic accidents in Vietnam every year, including fatal ones, he added.

Visitors from South Korea, Laos and China are most frequently involved in such accidents, Minh said.

The latest accident involving foreigners occurred in the northern province of Ninh Binh on August 28, killing one foreigner on the spot and injuring another.

Ho Chi Minh City Traffic Police set up checkpoints to fine foreigners who break traffic laws. Video: Tuoi Tre

Col. Huynh Trung Phong, head of the Road Traffic Police Division in Ho Chi Minh City, said such accidents have a negative impact on the city’s diplomatic front and smear its image in the eyes of foreign visitors.

Handling foreign traffic violators is hard work, Phong said, as it requires officers to be fluent in English and other foreign languages.

Explaining a violation to foreigners could take up to one hour per case on average, he added.

The municipal traffic police said it has proposed that traffic safety leaflets be handed to all foreigners upon their arrival in the southern metropolis as a measure to reduce accidents.

A foreigner rides a motorbike without wearing a crash helmet in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Duong / Tuoi Tre
A foreigner rides a motorbike without wearing a crash helmet in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Duong / Tuoi Tre

Information of foreign traffic violators will also be handed over to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Internal Affairs for monitoring.

Phong said the municipal police will no longer go soft on foreigners who break traffic laws and will take whatever measures necessary to re-establish and maintain traffic safety and order in Ho Chi Minh City.

International visitors to Ho Chi Minh City surpassed 7.5 million last year, up 17.38 percent from 2017.

This year, the southern metropolis strives to welcome up to 8.5 million foreign visitors.

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